The Business Case for Women on Boards

The Business Case for Women on Boards

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been raising your awareness (and maybe your blood pressure) by focusing on the lack of women in top corporate jobs – starting with the board of directors.  In I-O psychology, we understand the benefits of diversity.  Diversity can add tremendous value and have a positive impact on an organization’s innovation, outcomes and outputs.  A rich mix of diversity on a work team or on a board contributes to improved decision making, better problem solving and innovation


Last year, the University of Washington published a study called Better Boards Project: Exploring the Impact of Women on Boards (Goethals & Bloch, 2014).  The participants agreed that women “provide the broad diversity of perspective critical to robust governance practice.” Consider this summary provided in the report:

 Note Sherry provided a summary table fo this information but I could not get it to post here. It is in the attached copy of the original article submitted by Sherry. 

With compelling evidence to support gender diversity, why are there so few women on boards?


One reason might be that organizational research has been limited to the representation and status of the few women on boards.  The representative number of women on boards in the U.S. has slowly crept a few percentage points (17%).  Another reason might be effective communication of the message. In the United States, one organization is aiming for 20% of women on boards by 2020.


In Britain, Helena Morrissey – a financial manager – has been working behind the scenes with board chairmen to communicate the value of women on boards.  Since 2010, the number of women on British boards has doubled to 23%.  Morrissey cites the business case from Catalyst and Credit Suisse to tell the story.  Morrissey founded the 30% Club – a club that seeks to advance the number of women on boards.  Interestingly, the article on Morrissey claimed, “30 percent representation is the level at which organizational psychologists agree a minority voice can be heard.” (I haven’t heard that before and I don’t know if it’s true, but it might be a good research project! That’s topic for a different blog.)


My previous blog on “Why Mad Men Isn’t Really Over” noted, “To envision the possibilities and potential careers, young women and girls need role models and mentors.”  Moreover, young professional women need advocates like Morrissey to help them find a place in corporate boardrooms of America. 



Sources noted in “The Business Case for Women on Boards”


1McKinsey & Company (2007). Women matter: Gender diversity, a corporate performance driver.

2Catalyst (2011). The bottom line: Corporate performance and women’s representation on boards (2004-2008).

3Credit Suisse (2012). Gender diversity and corporate performance.

4Thomson Reuters (2013). Mining the metrics of board diversity.

5Credit Suisse (2014). The CS Gender 3000: Women in senior management.


Kelley Conrad's picture Kelley Conrad | June 20, 2015 8:42 am MST

Here is Sherry's blog from last week. Unfortunately I had difficulty posting her chart.  It is in the copy of the article attached. Kelley

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Sherry Jennings



Journal of Leadership Studies-Symposium Piece-Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education

Psychology Today
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American Psychological Association Conference-Utilizing Clinical Hypnotherapeutic Intervention with CBT to Treat Pandemic-Aug. 13-2021 Symptomology

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